AbeBooks Home

Pages & Proofs

A book blog from the staff at AbeBooks.co.uk

Advanced Search Browse Books Rare Books Textbooks
Advanced Search

Beautiful 1928 Parisian theatre poster sells for £1,146

Coq D’Or theatre poster

This beautiful Parisian theatre poster from 1928 has just sold for $1,760 (about £1,146) on the AbeBooks marketplace. It promotes a French opera-ballet called The Golden Cockerel (Coq d’Or in French) by Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov.

The libretto derives from Pushkin’s poem, The Tale of the Golden Cockerel, which was based on a section of Washington Irving’s Tales of the Alhambra. The opera was a satire of Russia’s Tsarist regime, including the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905).

The poster artist was Georges de Pogedaieff (1897-1971) – an influential Russian visual artist who created art for Russian ballets including the Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo.

Amy Stewart turns to fiction with Girl Waits With Gun

Author and bookseller Amy Stewart

I’ve been reading Girl Waits With Gun by Amy Stewart. Released this week, it’s Amy’s first novel and marks her entry into fiction after a series of entertaining non-fiction hits including The Drunken Botanist, Wicked Plants, Wicked Bugs and Flower Confidential.

Amy is no ordinary author as she is truly committed to books and the literary world. I’m not talking about signing a few books for her fans. I’m talking about the fact that she co-owns a bookshop in Northern California and knows about the trials and tribulations of being a bricks and mortar bookseller. She sees two distinct ends of the book business.

Girls Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart

I had the pleasure of meeting Amy and her husband Scott Brown earlier this summer in Eureka, California, where they live and run Eureka Books. With two months to go until the release of Girls Waits With Gun, she was very excited about the novel’s prospects and there was a book tour already in the works.

Girls Waits With Gun is a piece of historical fiction based upon real events and actual people. It tells the story of Constance Kopp, one of America’s first deputy sheriffs. Set in 1914 in small town New Jersey, the novel develops around a collision between a car, driven by a reckless silk factory owner, and a horse-drawn buggy, containing Constance and her sisters.

The aftermath involves threats and violence, and Constance defending her family while also assisting the local sheriff in the investigation. Gradually, she becomes more and more involved, and several stories unfold at once. In the background, Amy’s story touches on workplace conditions and social unrest, and how women were expected to behave in 1914.

Enjoy our interview with Amy.

AbeBooks: After so much non-fiction, why turn to fiction and write a novel?

Amy Stewart: “I’ve always wanted to write fiction, and, like many writers, I have a few failed novels in the drawer. Girl Waits with Gun comes from a true story, but it very much lends itself to fiction. I loved the idea of these three sisters who were–in real life–very different from each other but also sort of stuck to one another. And although the crime was a very serious one, their story also had the feeling of a caper about it. It felt like an adventure. As soon as I had a short stack of newspaper clippings, I thought, ‘Oh, this is a novel I’d like to read. I suppose I’ll have to write it.'”

AbeBooks: Was it a challenge to write fiction?

Amy Stewart:“It was a real joy. I actually approach my non-fiction the way novelists do, which is to say that I think a lot about the voice, even for books like The Drunken Botanist written in the third person. Even if it’s something very subtle that readers don’t consciously pick up on, I’m very aware of who the narrator is in those books. The narrator is still present as a character.

“Also, even with nonfiction, I do all my research first so that when I sit down to write, I can focus on the story. So much of it felt really familiar. I do appreciate,with historical fiction, being somewhat constrained by the truth. I can see how too many choices could get overwhelming.”

AbeBooks: Describe how you discovered the real Constance Kopp?

The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart

Amy Stewart: I was still writing The Drunken Botanist, and I was looking into the story of a gin smuggler named Henry Kaufman. I thought I’d better see what else this Henry Kaufman had done, and one of the first articles I turned up in the New York Times’ archive was about this silk factory owner named Henry Kaufman who ran his car into a buggy being driven by the Kopp sisters. I never did figure out if it was the same Henry Kaufman, but that was the beginning of their story.

AbeBooks: Is Girl Waits With Gun a story of good versus evil or a story of strong women?

Amy Stewart: “Yeah, I see it mostly as a story of these three women making their way in the world. You know, most of us can’t really point to very many moments in our own lives that actually changed everything for us. It’s the hook on which every great movie and book is based, but it doesn’t really happen that much in everyday life. But here are three women who really were set on an entirely new course because of this one crime against them. I’m much more interested in their journey–that’s what inspired me the most.

AbeBooks: If you had a dinner party and could invite anyone, which strong-willed women from history would you invite?

Amy Stewart: “It takes my breath away to imagine having dinner with Constance! Can I just invite the Kopp sisters? Really, that’s such a heart-stoppingly shocking notion that I can hardly bear to think about it.

“I’d love to talk to Margaret Sanger and Jane Jacobs, two women who cared deeply about social reform, and also Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, who was in Paterson, New Jersey, right before my story began and helped organize the famous Paterson silk strikes. It sounds like a very serious and sincere group, but I bet they knew how to kick back and have fun.”

AbeBooks: What appealed to you about this era (1914) of American life?

Amy Stewart: “Well, it’s the very beginning of the modern age. Women didn’t yet have the vote, but we were agitating for it. Our world was only just becoming motorized and electrified, but there were still gas lamps and horse-drawn carriages and weird medical tonics and all the artifacts of the nineteenth century. It’s such an unstable and unpredictable moment in time, right before the war, before the modern era began in earnest. It’s antiquated and strange but also just recent enough that we can almost touch it.”

AbeBooks: Your husband is a bookseller (like you) – does he also proof-read your writing?

Amy Stewart: “Yes, and he always finds something! He’s particularly good at looking out for anachronisms. He’s saved me from some embarrassing mistakes, none of which I’m willing to confess to.”

Eureka Books co-owned by Amy Stewart

A Tour of Tokyo’s Bookshops


Leave it to the Japanese to find an elegant, efficient and practical approach to everything – even shopping for books. Book-loving visitors to Tokyo who seek out Jimbocho, an entire district dedicated to used books and publishing, will find themselves in a beautiful, bookish heaven. Jimbocho, named for a 17th-century Samurai, was razed by fire in 1913. The first business to emerge from the ashes was a bookshop, and others followed suit. Today, the area boasts ~175 bookshops, including about 50 devoted to used and rare books.

Earlier this year, AbeBooks staffer Colin Laird was fortunate enough to indulge in some bookstore tourism, and found himself in the heart of Jimbocho. From colourful shopfronts boasting wall-to-wall manga, to purveyors of rare, literary antiquities, the printed word is alive, well, and right at your fingertips in Tokyo, Japan.

Read the whole article.

10 Memorable, Unusual Cookery Books

Over all the years of book love, I’ve come across so many weird and wonderful books, from rare and collectable automobile repair manuals to children’s potty-training books to unimaginably beautiful books of art and everything in between. Some of my favourites have been cookery books. Since we all eat, you’d think cookery books would bring out our commonalities, and the basic truths that apply to everyone. Instead, wonderfully, I’ve been amazed at the huge variety I come across. From different countries, different dietary requirements, and different tastes, it seems we can’t get enough of trying new and surprising ways to enjoy food. Here are 10 of the more memorable cookery books I’ve found. Some are notably weird.


Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson: A Computer-Generated Cookbook
IBM’s cognitive computing system “Watson”, made famous by appearances on Jeopardy, tries its circuitry at something better than trivia – cooking. In a creative attempt to break free of culinary ruts and open the minds of chefs to new flavour combinations, project members at IBM trained Watson, by inputting tens of thousands of recipes, flavour profiles, chemical composition of foods, complementary ingredients and the like, and Watson “learned”. This book of computer-generated recipes is a perfect example of the science behind cooking.

Cooking with All Things Trader Joe’s
Trader Joe’s is among my favorite places on Earth. Perhaps in part because I’m Canadian and can’t go there often, it holds an allure unlike any other store. Full of carefully curated selections of healthy, fun food, some fresh and whole, some partially prepared, and some convenient and ready to eat, it’s also the home of cheap wine and beer, and the best customer service ever. If I lived in the United States, I’d buy this book.

Cooking Up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from the Times-Picayune of New Orleans
New Orleans is absolutely one of the premier food cities in North America, with a rich history of southern recipes passed down generation to generation. With the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, many of those recipes were lost, and could have stayed that way. However, post-hurricane, the Times-Picayune newspaper became a forum for people to add and share their recipes, post pleas for a particular lost recipe, and start to rebuild the flavour of the city one dish at a time. Edited by Marcelle Bienvenu and Judy Walker, Cooking Up A Storm offers 250 of the authentic, tasty recipes that readers came together to share, as well as the stories behind them.

The Portlandia Cookbook by Armisen, Brownstein & Krisel
The companion cookbook to the hit show Portlandia by the Emmy-nominated stars and writers Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, with 50 delicious recipes for every food lover, freegan, organic farmer, and food truck diehard. This is a funny cookbook with serious recipes for anyone who loves food. And yes, the chicken’s local.

I Like Food, Food Tastes Good by Kara Zuaro
Taking its title from punk rock pioneers The Descendents, I Like Food, Food Tastes Good is a fantastic compilation of recipes contributed by various bands. I admit I was skeptical – surely the Descendents would offer up something terrifying: “Gather the empties from around yer house. Pour the half-inch from each bottle into a pot. Watch for butts. Stir.” I envisioned ‘recipes’ involving nothing more than fast food eaten in a gas station bathroom. But I was completely wrong, and very pleased with the result. The cookbook isn’t just amusing for fans of the bands or people who want a quirky read – it’s also a real cookbook, with over a dozen things I was immediately dying to try out.

The Dead Celebrity Cookbook by Frank DeCaro
In The Dead Celebrity Cookbook: A Resurrection of Recipes by 150 Stars of Stage and Screen, Frank DeCaro—the flamboyantly funny Sirius XM radio personality best known for his six-and-a-half-year stint as the movie critic on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart—collects hundreds of recipes passed on from legendary stars of stage and screen, proving that before there were celebrity chefs, there were celebrities who fancied themselves chefs.

Literary Feasts: Recipes from the Classics of Literature by Barbara Scrafford
A collection of insightful essays on food accompanied by a host of recipes, Literary Feasts explores the significance of food in literature. Each featured meal–from Madame Bovary’s wedding feast of chicken fricassee, to Doc’s beer milkshake from Cannery Row –has been set down in recipe form as authentically as possible so readers may duplicate them at home.

Cooking in the Nude for Playful Gourmets by Stephen and Debbie Cornwell
Intrigued? Fair enough. I for one am unable to wonder about the recipes without horrifying images of badly-splashed bacon fat dancing in my head. Sharp knives, graters and slicers, and high temperatures just don’t lend themselves to naked prancing, in my books. Still, you’ve got to admit, it’s memorable.

Roald Dahl’s Cookbook
Roald Dahl did write some ghastly, wonderfully gross cookbooks for children. This is not one of those, though. This book is a mixture of anecdotes covering Roald Dahl’s family, his childhood, and his happiness at home with Liccy, his wife, and their numerous children, grandchildren and friends. For this extensive family, there is no more enjoyable way of relaxing than sharing good food and wine. The meals they enjoy together round the old pine farmhouse table at Gipsey House are either fine examples of national dishes of their heritage – Norwegian, French, British, etc – or favourite recipes that have delighted three generations of discerning eaters. Many recipes have acquired a particular significance for the Dahl family over the years, and these are introduced with reminiscences rich in nostalgia and humour.

A Treasury of Great Recipes by Vincent and Mary Price
One of the most revered and collectible cookbooks of the 20th century, Vincent and Mary Price’s A Treasury of Great Recipes has stood the test of time. It now seems clear that one of the reasons this book has become a classic is not merely the recipes. This book captures an entire
lifestyle — the Postwar, globe-trotting, Pan Am, waiters in bow ties, gourmet lifestyle. This is a Mad Men book. No quick-to-the-table Betty Crocker conveniences here. Everything about this book screams “gracious dining.” The Prices in their kitchen with gleaming copper pots. The reproductions of pages from vintage menus. The word “Luncheon.” The two-color pen and ink illustrations. The padded leatherette binding with silk bookmark. This is not to say that the Prices are snobbish. They’re cultured. And the scope and level of detail they bring to this book is loving and extraordinary.

Omar Sharif, Boris Pasternak, The KGB and the CIA

Midway through the year, while scanning a report of our recent high-value orders, a sale caught my eye. It was a copy of Boris Pasternak’s classic novel Doctor Zhivago, in its original Russian, bound in plain, blue cloth. It sold for $11,000. The bookseller’s description mentioned that this was the edition “covertly published by the CIA”. Obviously, I had to learn more about that. And I did. You can read all about the man who smuggled Doctor Zhivago into the light, here, from the KGB’s refusal to allow publication of the book in the Soviet Union, to the CIA’s very real involvement and eventual declassification of documents nearly 60 years later.

During my research, I also discovered the 1958 Pantheon edition of Zhivago (below), complete with many, many black and white illustrations by Alexander Alexeieff.


While I was initially disappointed to not have glossy, full-color illustrations, it ended up feeling so fitting. The more of Zhivago I read, and the more I learned about the climate in which in was written, the more the images seemed perfectly aligned with the book’s contents. And they’re quite beautiful. They’re all black and white. While I don’t know the original medium, I’d be tempted to guess charcoal. Some of the drawings seem crude and undefined in their style, but still manage to convey a strong message and elicit an emotional response. This is just a drop in the bucket- the book is just full of these dark, snowy, stark and telling images.











Misprinted copy of Go Set a Watchman sells for £988

Go Set a Watchman

A misprinted copy of Go Set a Watchman has sold for £988 on the AbeBooks marketplace. Earlier this month, it emerged that a number of the UK first editions were missing sections of text from pages toward the end of Harper Lee’s novel.

The Guardian had reported:

A number of the first 25,000 copies of Harper Lee’s new novel Go Set a Watchman are missing paragraphs and sentences from the final pages – with many readers complaining it has tainted their reading of the book. It is unknown how many of the books purchased are missing the pieces of text.

The novel, a sequel to Lee’s 1960 debut, To Kill a Mockingbird, sold more than 105,000 copies in the UK on its first day of release. According to publisher Penguin Random House, the misprint occurred after an error at the printers resulted in six pages towards the end of the UK edition having missing lines.

In a statement the publisher added: “Due to an error in the printing process a limited number of copies of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman are faulty. Replacement copies are currently being printed and the situation will be resolved swiftly.”

“It was just incredibly frustrating,” said Mike Bell, who pre-ordered the book so it would arrive on the day of its release. “It seems a shame to mess up the printing on such a historic book. There were several sentences that were incomplete or missing entirely and it just really bothers you and disrupts your reading. I’ve got a new copy coming so I’m going to go back and reread those pages but it’s a bit late now.”

Well, Mr Bell’s flawed copy potentially has some value. Let hope he didn’t throw it away. There are no other misprinted copied listed for sale on the AbeBooks marketplace right now and it appears the misprints are limited to the UK. The buyer who purchased this particular book was not located in the UK.

Some collectors enjoy picking up literary oddities and these misprinted Watchmen books definitely fall into that category.

The top 10 summers in fiction

summer-book-tove-janssonThe Guardian’s Tim Lott has a post today chronicling what he believes to be the Top 10 Summers in fiction (reproduced below). What do you think? What would you add? I think it’s a solid list, though I’d want to include The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The latter takes place over three years, true, but the summers, when Dill visits, are so perfectly written.

Here are Lott’s choices:

1. The Magus by John Fowles
Fowles is no longer a fashionable writer, but The Magus for me was the ultimate summer book when I first read it in my early 20s. Set on the Greek island of Phraxos, full of mystery, sexual undercurrents and discomfiting plot reversals, it is the work of a master storyteller. Some critics have complained of it being a work of adolescent sexual fantasy, and their claims are not groundless. But few books have transported me more effectively into their imaginative territory. I am astonished that no one has tried to make a film of it since the disastrous adaptation of 1968.

2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
What is there left to say about this most perfect novel? The beauty of Fitzgerald is that he writes so simply and directly, and yet with such depth and presence; such a quiet yet powerful “voice”. Set in 1922, like all great summer novels it creates an atmosphere of heat and water and mystery – the greatest mystery being Gatsby himself. One of my favourite scenes in all literature, when Gatsby shows Daisy Buchanan his expensive shirts in a pathetic effort to convince her that he is worthy of her love, is just one small and luminous piece of a remarkable whole.

3. The Last Weekend by Blake Morrison
This unreliably narrated novel tells of a single weekend in August in which a friendship is gradually unpicked by male rivalry and sexual competition. Morrison starts by making you laugh – and finishes by horrifying you with the relentlessness and self-deceiving ruthlessness of his protagonist.

4. The Siege of Krishnapur by JG Farrell
For some reason, despite effectively winning the Booker prize twice, Farrell has never entered the popular imagination as one of the greats. This is his masterpiece. Complex, rich, dark and very funny, it is set at the time of the so-called Indian Mutiny of 1857, and explodes imperial pretensions with such a light touch that one could read it simply as comedy, although it is in fact multi-layered and profound. No one writes like Farrell: he manages to capture the real randomness and absurdity of everyday life (and even being under siege in India has its own everday-ness) with unparalleled skill.

5. Atonement by Ian McEwan
For my money, McEwan’s greatest book, and something of a departure from what came before (and after). Set in the summer of 1935, but with a distinctly Edwardian feel, the country-house setting evokes all the usual spirits of sex, corruption and innocence, but with such authenticity you feel it is being done for the first time.

6. Skios by Michael Frayn
Michael Frayn’s mind seems to contain such multitudes that it is hard to get a fix on what kind of a writer he really is, as he swings between philosophy, drama, comedy and serious literary intent. I like him best when he’s being funny, though, and Skios is his funniest book since Towards the End of the Morning. Again set on a Greek island, this is a classic plot involving the unlikely confusion of identities between a roué and stuffy academic, and for all its implausibility, you buy into it sufficiently to enjoy it. The mysterious ending is typical Frayn, lifting what was simply a deft piece of entertainment into the realms of the profound.

7. Nemesis by Philip Roth
Set in 1944 during a summer polio epidemic in Roth’s home turf of Newark, New Jersey, Nemesis is one of Roth’s most readable works. It makes uncomfortable beach material because it is fundamentally – like most of Roth’s work – a tragedy, with Bucky Cantor, the innocent at the centre of the narrative, the victim of a pitiless destiny.

8. Becoming Strangers by Louise Dean
In 2006, when I had the privilege of running the ultimate summer literary prize, the Le Prince Maurice Prize in Mauritius, this book won easily against the field. A work of humour and tenderness, set at a Caribbean resort and focused on two married couples, it was Dean’s debut and her finest novel to date.

9. The Summer Book by Tove Jansson
I have to admit that I do not love The Summer Book as much as some of the people I know who rave about it. It is somewhat self-consciously literary for my taste, and occasionally hard going, but that is because it resembles poetry more than it does prose and is shot through with meanings that are elusive and obscure. But I cannot help but admire it, even though given a choice, I would probably select Moominsummer Madness for my holiday reading.

10. The Go-Between by LP Hartley
Famous for its first line “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there”, this is a masterclass in plot, style and depth. Set in the summer of 1900 but published in 1953, it tells the story of adult desires impinging on childhood naivety. The 1970 Joseph Losey film does the novel justice, but it is no substitute for such sublime prose.

10 Film Recommendations for Book Lovers


Look, even the most devout and voracious reader has to come up for air sometimes to prevent our eyes from crossing. And when we do, surely we must dip a toe into the waters of other hobbies. What’s nice, though, is how many of those hobbies can still sneakily support our bibliohabits. Film-watching, of course, is a no-brainer. With many of our most beloved stories adapted for the silver screen, it’s another avenue to spend time with our favourite literary characters.

And even in the case of original films that weren’t books first, many still explore literary events, people and stories in pleasing ways, which is a boon to a booklover.

With that in mind, here are 10 Essential Movies for Book Lovers, as compiled by Decider.com:


1. Iris.
This moving drama about British author Iris Murdoch features three incredible performances from Judi Dench (as Murdoch in her elderly years), Kate Winslet (as the young Murdoch), and Jim Broadbent (as her husband, John Bayley). All three were nominated for Oscars for their work (Broadbent won Best Supporting Actor) in this tragic story about one of the greatest British writers, her struggle with Alzheimer’s disease, and the love she shared with her husband throughout their turbulent years together.

2. Wonder Boys
Curtis Hanson’s comedy, which stars Michael Douglas as one-time literary great who’s now a beleaguered creative writing professor, follows a wacky cast of characters (Tobey Maguire, Robert Downey, Jr., Katie Holmes, and Frances McDormand round out the cast) over the course of one nutty weekend centered around a literary festival. It’s a great adaptation of Michael Chabon’s celebrated novel, Wonder Boys — even if an entire character was cut from the script.

3. Capote
Philip Seymour Hoffman won the Oscar for Best Actor for his role as celebrated writer Truman Capote. Bennett Miller’s stark drama follows Capote as he travels to Kansas in order to write about the two men who are suspected of murdering a family as they slept. With his friend Harper Lee (played by Oscar nominee Catherine Keener) in tow, Capote gets uncomfortably close to the subjects in order to judge for himself whether or not they are guilty. The film serves as an intriguing biopic of the events that took place while Capote wrote his game-changing true-crime book, In Cold Blood.

4.  Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle
Robert Altman produced this indie directed by his protégé Alan Rudolph, which stars Jennifer Jason Lee as the writer Dorothy Parker, one of the more celebrated writers who met daily at the Algonquin Hotel and were known collectively as the Algonquin Round Table. The film boasts a cast of characters that includes writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald, George S. Hart, and Edna Ferber, and also features a star-studded cast that includes Matthew Broderick, Martha Plimpton, Lili Taylor, Jon Favreau, and Gwyneth Paltrow.

5.  Midnight in Paris
Like Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, Midnight in Paris features an impressive roster of real-life writers and artists that will spark joy in any former English major. But Woody Allen’s Oscar-winning romantic comedy also has a fantasy bent to it, in which a modern-day writer (played by Owen Wilson) escapes into the glitzy social circles of 1920s Paris every night at midnight, where he rubs shoulders with Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, and T. S. Eliot.

6. Miss Potter
Perhaps your literary tastes skew a bit… younger? Well, this charming biographical film about Beatrix Potter (played by Renee Zellweger) may bring delight to your heart, especially as it includes animated sequences of her famous stories and characters, particularly Peter Rabbit.

7. Quills
If your tastes run darker, then how about this drama that follows the notorious Marquis de Sade (played by Geoffrey Rush), his final years at the French asylum at Charenton, and his efforts to publish his saucy tales through the black market despite Napoleon’s orders than his books be banned. Joaquin Phoenix, Kate Winslet, and Michael Caine co-star in this Oscar-nominated adaptation of Doug Wright’s controversial play.

8. The Hours
Nicole Kidman won an Oscar for her portrayal of the great Virginia Woolf  in this ensemble drama that shows how three women — Woolf, a 1950s housewife (played by Julianne Moore), and a modern-day version of Clarissa Dalloway (Meryl Streep) — across time are connected to Woolf’s tour de force, Mrs. Dalloway.

9. Ruby Sparks
Zoe Kazan wrote and stars in this fanciful satire about an anxious and introverted young writer (played by Paul Dano) who struggles to replicate his early success with a new novel. After drafting up the image of a young woman named Ruby Sparks, he’s startled to learn that the woman he created with his mind has come to life. Soon he discovers how to get over his writer’s block: by controlling the woman of his dreams.

10. Dead Poets’ Society
This much-beloved, modern classic stars Robin Williams as John Keating, a new English teacher at the prestigious (albeit fictional) Welton Academy, who shakes up the lives of his students (a motley crew including young Ethan Hawke, Josh Charles, and Robert Sean Leonard) and inspires them not just to read and enjoy poetry, but also achieve their best selves. 

Ali Smith Wins 2015 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction


Big congratulations to Ali Smith, whose novel How to Be Both has been announced the winner of this year’s Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction. The book has been called eloquent and lyrical, unusual and magical, and a modern revelation.

This year marks 20 years of the prize, which was formerly known as the Orange Prize for Fiction.

The prize comes with the honour and prestige, a cheque for £30,000 and a limited-edition bronze statuette known as a “Bessie”, created and donated by an artist named Grizel Niven.

Congratulations as well to the other five finalists for their excellence and recognition:

Outline by Rachel Cusk

The Bees by Laline Paull (find signed copies)

A God in Every Stone by Kamila Shamsie (find signed copies)

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler (find signed copies)

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters (find signed copies)

The prize began with a longlist of 20 books, then down to the six semi-finalists of the shortlist, and today at last the winner was announced, live-streamed and live-tweeted from the awards ceremony.

BBC radio show sparks interest in forgotten farming book from 1944

The Farming Ladder by George Henderson

A long forgotten farming book published in 1944, that promotes small-scale agriculture, is in demand again after being featured on a BBC Radio 4 show at the weekend.

The Farming Ladder by George Henderson was the basis for Sybil Ruscoe’s On the Farm, which is broadcast at 6.35am on Sunday mornings. The book outlines the best methods for agricultural production on small farms, and was intended to encourage soldiers, returning from World War II, to take up farming.

Since Sunday, The Farming Ladder was the most searched for book on AbeBooks.co.uk – the online marketplace for used and rare books.

Although farmers are early risers and often listen to early morning radio while milking or feeding animals, the book is also going to appeal to many other people interested in sustainable farming, local produce and organic food.

Henderson was convinced that small farms could be profitable and his book describes an intensive but chemical-free style of mixed farming where animals play a vital role by providing natural fertilizer – manure. The Farming Ladder details cattle, sheep, poultry and pig husbandry on a small scale.

According the radio show, Henderson’s motto was the three S’s – no smoking, no swearing and no standing about. The book, which appears to have been reprinted several times, turned Henderson into an agricultural celebrity in the 1940s and 1950s with thousands of people visiting his 85-acre Oathill Farm in Oxfordshire to learn more about his methods.

Henderson’s widow, Elizabeth, a former land girl, is still alive and was interviewed in the show. George’s granddaughter Kate, who’s in her early 20s, works on Oathill Farm today.

The Farming Ladder is also available as a print on demand book.

A map of George Henderson’s Oathill Farm

Farmer and author George Henderson

The Farming Ladder published by Faber and Faber

A photograph from The Farming Ladder

Further images from Henderson’s book